Trademarks

Proportion
Categories: Trademarks
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Why trademark your brand?

Is your company name and brand trademarked? You may think, why bother, what’s the point? Let us explain.

We recently had a query for one of our firms. They had identified that their company name was being targeted by a firm of solicitors who specialised in PPI and investment complaints. When people put their business name into google to search for them, the ad (like the one below) popped up at the top of the page. This caused obvious concern for the firm and they contacted us to ask what they could do about it.

Whilst the FCA has recently provided guidance on financial promotions for claims management companies to follow, these do not apply to solicitors’ firms as they are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. The ad was carefully worded so that that it asked the question as follows

‘firm name | Were you advised to invest? You may have been mis-sold your investment.’

Therefore, only insinuating but enough to provide doubt in customers minds.

There are a number of ways to try to get the ad removed, such as complaining to the firm, the advertising standards authority or in this case the Solicitors regulation authority, however the easier way by far to avoid this happening would be to trademark the business name.

Fortunately, this story has a happy ending as our client, following our advice, managed to get the ad removed, but with the deadline for PPI complaints now having past, these firms will be looking for an alternative source of revenue so don’t be an easy target for them.

What is trademarking?

A trademark can be any sign that identifies you as the owner of your goods or services to make it clear they belong to you.  A trademark must be unique so it cannot be confused for an already registered trademark.  It cannot also be descriptive.  The following list can be registered:

  • Word
  • Logo
  • Shape
  • Position
  • Pattern
  • Colour (single)
  • Colour (Combination)
  • Sound
  • Motion
  • Multimedia
  • Hologram

In the UK, the Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO) is the government body that deals with trade mark registrations.

What benefit does trademarking provide?

Registering your name as a trademark gives you exclusive legal ownership of it, meaning that it cannot be used without your permission and should someone try to use without your permission you can take legal action to stop them.

The registration process takes around 4 months if no-one objects and registered trademarks last 10 years.

How to get a trademark

The Chartered Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys has put a fantastic page together on how to get a trademark.  You can read it here: https://www.citma.org.uk/trade-marks-ip/how-to-get-a-trade-mark.html